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WA Fisheries Dept. refuses to pay for removal of whale carcass

By Karen Graham     Nov 19, 2014 in Politics
Perth - The humpback whale carcass that made news earlier this month when a man thought it would be funny to "surf a whale," is back in the public spotlight again. This time, the focus is on who is responsible for paying for the removal of the carcass.
The humpback carcass made news on November 2, when Harrison Williams followed through on a dare from some friends. Williams jumped out of a boat and swam over to the carcass just so he could "surf the whale," even though sharks were feeding on the remains at the time. The story was covered in Digital Journal on Nov. 4.
At that time, the whale carcass had been floating between Rottnest and the WA coast for some time, according to local authorities. A spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Wildlife said the carcass was the responsibility of the Fremantle Port Authority. She added, “The way the winds are blowing it will probably stay in that ocean space for some time."
But the whale carcass wasn't paying any attention to what local authorities had been predicting, and washed ashore on Scarborough on November 3. The City of Stirling, a suburb of Perth, was forced to contract for special equipment in order to lift and transport the remains to a landfill. There is now a bill amounting to $188,000 covering removal, transport, restoration and cleaning of the beach, insurance and other miscellaneous costs.
Stirling Mayor Giovanni Italiano wants somebody to pay the bill, and has written letters to the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries asking for the Government to pay. Sadly, all the city has been offered is "$8,000 for the waste fees and the cost of the contaminated sand," said the mayor.
Mayor Italiano said, "The Minister for Fisheries' office said they are not going to foot the bill because it's a mammal, not a fish. They believe it's not in their jurisdiction." He added that the state government should have towed the carcass out to sea in the first place, before it washed up on the beach. "We're not going to pay this and the ratepayers are not going to pay it. We pay the Government $26.3 million for fire and emergencies services levies and this was an emergency."
A Minister for Fisheries spokeswoman responded saying, the Fish Resources Management Act of 1994 "does not envisage the Department of Fisheries managing whales, whether they are alive or dead."
Mayor Italiano said last week that if another whale carcass ended up on their beach, the council would not deal with any clean up of the remains. So this is where the story stands at the moment. Is the Ministry for Fisheries being a bit of a nitpicker, or not?
More about Western australia, whale carcass, Perth, whales are not fish, not their jurisdiction
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